It was a Friday night (late 80’s) in Grass Valley, California. I was a senior in high school and a friend of mine suggested we attend a party being thrown at a house where someone’s parents were out of town. I wasn’t much of a “partier” as I didn’t drink alcohol or do drugs, but aside from school, the “parties” were where the girls could be found.
So to the party we went.
It was your typical soiree with too many teenagers doing too many stupid things like drinking beer and wine coolers. Yes wine coolers were “all the rage” back then. My buddy and I weren’t there long, before another reason I didn’t crash too many parties, arrived.
Testosterone fueled males looking to impress the ladies.
Now for those of you who have read Late Bird you know fighting was part of my adolescence. Sometimes it went my way. Sometimes it didn’t. I learned very early that if someone was messing with you to hit first, hit hard.
I was also one that never held a grudge.
Once the fight was finished, as far as I was concerned, the problem was solved.
Sadly too many who get their egos crushed feel the need to “come back for more”.
Because this story isn’t about this particular fight I am going to condense. Someone I did not know had a problem with me. I addressed the problem in a way that was unsatisfactory to them. My friend and I left the party. Again as far as I was concerned the issue was over.
The next week in school the aggrieved individual and his friends offered to rearrange parts of my body and made comments in general that in this day and age would not be considered “micro aggressions”.
One of the aggrieved party’s friends was a big, strong, blond, tough guy (we’ll call him Steve) that I didn’t know and had never had any problems with.
He stared at me as I squared off with two of them at a basketball game. The conversation was brief. A word that rhymed with buck and chuck attached to you was shared a few times back and forth. Fortunately aside from profanity and threats nothing happened.
Two on one isn’t the best odds especially if you are the one. Much more on this subject later.
You see sometimes life has an interesting way of making a nemesis a very real friend.
Let us fast forward about a year. I’d just finished my first year of college baseball and was playing in an all-star game that encompassed the best players in our district and then traveled to Sacramento to play other all-star teams from different districts.
One thing about Grass Valley and the surrounding towns that made up our district.
The citizens supported their sports teams.
This all-star game happened in the middle of day and during the week, but the “mountain folk” as we were called, traveled well and were there to cheer us on.
This was the only game I can remember that my father didn’t attend. He made all the others but couldn’t get this day off. Looking back on it I believe this was divine intervention because had he been there I have no doubt, some of the fans of the other team, wouldn’t have made it home.
We were matched up that day with a district that was made up of what is today referred to as “urban”.
It was the “city” kids against the “mountain” kids and the stands were packed with adults cheering on each side.
I always thought the “euphemisms” were kind of funny. We all knew “city” meant black and brown and “mountain” meant white and the stands were filled that way.
So were the teams.
Skin color never mattered to me in any way and athletics was no different. Whether my opponents were black, white, brown or blue didn’t matter because I ALWAYS thought I was the best player on any diamond on which I stepped.
The better my opponents the harder I competed. This happens when you HATE TO LOSE and are willing to dedicate yourself to something in pursuit of excellence.
Before the game even started, fans on both sides were yelling comments onto the field and eventually at each other. The umpires were getting tense as the language was filled with profanity, primarily from the city crowd.
Someone on the city side brought a drum and they were beating the living tar out of it.
I have to admit, aside from the profanity and threats, I LOVED the environment.
You could smell the competition, right along with the newly cut grass and pine tar.
Wonderfully, in the middle of it all, was I.
Early in the game I drove a fastball over the left field fence and as I rounded the bases a wide variety of slurs were hurled at me.
If you can think it, it was said.
I actually started laughing coming around third and took my time in reaching home. The fans were the worst. Only one other time during the rest of my career did I ever experience anything close and that happened at Fresno State.
One of the more memorable lines from the probably drunken crowd at Bulldog University was from a young woman who screamed “you ain’t got nothing down there!” when I adjusted my cup in between pitches.
To be fair I may have slightly turned my hips and aimed my “adjustment” in their overall direction but after innings of listening to their opinions about my genetic makeup and sexual prowess/persuasion, I thought I’d give them a little “hat tip”.
Back to the story.
The next inning one of the “city” kid’s hit a towering home run to center field. It might still be going. Now remember I took my time rounding THIRD. This joker still hadn’t hit first base and was one flap down Jeffrey Leonard style screaming at the top of his lungs “DING DONG! DING DONG!”
Jogging back to shortstop I started screaming at him to “shut the f*&k up!”
He passed within a few feet of me, and although I was boiling, I doubt he even heard me as the “DING DONG” kept getting louder.
The city fans were screaming their delight and the drum was being beaten…well like a drum.
The noise was incredible, the ranting, spitting, and screaming was at a peak (or so I thought) and again, aside from the threats, and the profanity (yes I realize I was part of the profanity problem) it was AWESOME!
Looking back on it the DING DONG wasn’t something I would have done but I have to admit I am smiling as I remember that moment.
Fast forward a couple of innings and things had gotten tight.
The score had gone back and forth but their pitcher was getting tired and my guess is they didn’t have anyone else they thought could get the job done. He gave up the lead, became frustrated and drilled our next hitter. It happens. He started to throw a temper tantrum on the mound and drilled our next hitter which loaded the bases. I was having quite a day and I guess their coach didn’t want to take a chance that he was about to witness a grand slam because he pulled his pitcher as I walked to the plate.
As the new pitcher warmed up, their center fielder jogged into the infield and stood around third base staring at me. I was standing on their side of the diamond watching their new pitcher warmup as I am right handed. I’m not really sure what or why he decided to remind me of my skin color (not that that wasn’t happening all day) but he lit into every word imaginable including the one that rhymes with bigger.
I had my 34 31 Easton in my hands and with a head nod waved him in and said,”come on down.” He did what most “tough guys” like to do and walked INTO his third basemen while pretending to be held back. When the pitcher was ready to go the center fielder stopped with his “hold me back” program and jogged to the mound, pointed at me and said something to the new pitcher.
Now remember. This entire day was filled with threats, profanity and our last two hitters had just been beaned.
I glanced back at the home plate umpire and said,”blue, if this guy hits me we’re gonna have a problem.”
The old guy working the dish looked exhausted. He’d had both sides screaming at him and had also received comments about his melanin level when calls didn’t go a certain way. He didn’t even lift his mask. He just looked at me and said, “son, you do what you gotta do.”
In all my experience in athletics I’d never had an official say anything like that and it has never happened since.
The poor old guy was through. “Son you do what you gotta do.”
Now for a rule follower like myself this was a green light.
Of course even if he’d said nothing, if their pitcher drilled me, “we were gonna have a problem.”
As the pitcher went into his windup I braced for a fastball to be thrown at my head. The pitch left his hand and bounced in front of the plate.
“Strange,” I thought as the catcher threw the ball back.
The pitcher toed the rubber and threw his second pitch.
Again, right in the dirt in front of home plate.
“That’s weird,” I thought.
Pitch number three same spot.
I stepped out of the batters box and finally realized what was about to happen.
Pitch number four drilled me squarely in the back and he threw it as hard as he could.
For those of you who haven’t been smoked by a pitch it isn’t pleasant and when you know it is on purpose…well….
I took three steps towards first base and then took a hard left and sprinted to the mound. The fight was on.
When you are first to a baseball brawl things usually don’t go very well. I ended up on the bottom of the pile with my arms wrapped around the necks of two opposing players and yes I was squeezing with everything I had.
It didn’t take long though for all the oxygen to be gone and the panic to set in as I could feel myself being smothered. Just as things were going dark multiple bodies were removed from my chest and both of my arms were ripped back freeing the others.
I inhaled deeply as I was lifted from the ground and then escorted to our dugout where I was informed I was being thrown out of the game.
The two players I’d had at the bottom of the pile were screaming and yelling that they were going to kill me.
This language earned their removal as well.
I was escorted off the field by District officials, and walked to the parking lot, by one of my teammate’s father and older brother. Unfortunately this wasn’t a well laid plan as leaving wasn’t an option as we had to wait for my teammate, their son and brother.
We decided to return to the field.
That was a mistake.
The two other ejected players and their families had apparently been held back and when they saw little ol’ me…they lost their minds.
I was standing in my sliding shorts, socks, a shirt and had a necklace on. As I looked up the stands emptied.
In my direction.
The father of my teammate grabbed my bat, jumped in front of me and then tackled the first attacker.
His son tackled the next one.
The rest was up to me.
I don’t know how many of you have ever experienced a mob of insanity running towards you screaming, that they are going to “kill you”, but I strongly suggest you try and not have this experience.
It isn’t pretty.
I was knocked down three times, had my shirt ripped off my body, necklace gone forever and had a massive goose egg on the back of my head where I think I was kicked while fighting on the ground.
I was told later that one of the mother’s was arrested for pulling a knife.
As I fought back the third time to my feet the punches and kicks had subsided. Standing in front of me now were OUR fans.
This probably kept me from ending up in the hospital or worse.
As I stood there half naked, bleeding from the mouth, snarling unintelligible things, I noticed a big strong blond kid to my right pushing back two adult men whom were both bigger than he.
I heard him say, “that’s my friend…now back the f*&k up!”
It was Steve.
That was almost thirty years ago and I still remember Steve standing there like it was yesterday.
I was getting the tar beat out of me and into the fray stepped a young man who knew what was happening was wrong.
He knew he didn’t have to put himself in harms way but he did anyway.
Did I care, that at one time, Steve had said some horrible things to me.
Did I care that in the past Steve had chosen a different side than myself.
I was in trouble and Steve stepped in, defended me and bought me enough time to GET BACK UP AND INTO THE FIGHT.
The United States is at a cross roads.
The election of Hillary Clinton will remove all semblance of the Rule of Law.
Eventually millions of us are going to decide that we will not be dictated to.
That we will not be lied to.
That we all follow the laws or none of us follow the laws.
This will cause tremendous pain for you, for me, for America.
Something none of us want.
Without the electorate choosing a new direction the writing is on the wall.
The needs of the Human have been the same since the dawn of man.
Water, food, shelter, SECURITY, the need to belong.
You don’t have to like Steve, but he is the only one standing in front of us, taking hits that he doesn’t have to be taking.
He is speaking truth to power and getting crushed.
While we are trying to get back up from the beating, Steve is pushing the abusers back, giving us time to regroup.
Steve’s language was profane. So was theirs. So was mine.
Did the beating stop?
Yes it did.
We have four weeks to stop the assault.
You damn well better appreciate Steve as he is the only one holding back four more years of a beating.
A beating that many will not survive. Whether you believe that or not is irrelevant. Facts are facts.
A new way must be paved. A new card must be played. We all know what it is. It has five letters…just like Steve.
That card is known as TRUMP.
For those of you who have been with me for a while you know how I feel about profanity. There are so many beautiful words available to use I believe profane verbiage is the measurement of the intellectually lazy.
There are times however that profanity is appropriate and even warranted.
It is always warranted in the physical protection of ourselves or others.
Usage of any word is always better than fists. Fists are always better than bullets.
Due to the fact that corruption is ruining our country I want to make sure this message is clear.
Stand the f*&k UP!
If you won’t now, “Steve” might not be there next time.
To all my Brothers and Sisters. To all American Sons and Daughters.
It’s time to do what we gotta do.